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Tracking of Major Pollution Sources Shows Reduced Discharges in Maine Latest Toxic Release Data Show Trend Continuing in All New England States

Release Date: 05/11/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017, deegan.dave@epa.gov

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2005; Release # dd050511

Boston - Releases of toxic chemicals by industrial sources in all six New England states, including Maine, continue to decline, show the most recent data reported to EPA.

The annual Toxic Release Inventory, released today by EPA, confirms that for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont there has been a decline of approximately 90 percent in releases of more than 650 tracked chemicals since 1988. This has occurred even as more facilities and industrial sectors are required to report their emissions.

During the past 17 years of reporting, total releases have declined by more than 71 percent overall in Maine. Nationally, chemical releases have declined by nearly 68 percent.

“Throughout New England, this data show that we have declining levels of emissions of chemicals to our air, soil and water," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England regional office. "EPA is committed to providing the public with information about which chemicals are being released in and near their communities.”

The list of chemicals emitted, and facilities required to report, has expanded a number of times since the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) was mandated by Congress in 1988. These data, made available each year to the public and communities throughout the U.S., covers pollution releases to air, water and land by power plants, manufacturers and other facilities which employ ten or more workers and exceed thresholds for TRI chemicals.

During 2003, the latest year for which data are available, approximately 25.4 million pounds of chemicals were released in the six New England states, with Maine’s release figure at approximately 8.4 million pounds. Of Maine’s releases, approximately 56 percent were emitted to the air, and 43 percent were emitted to water during 2003.

Today's data includes information on releases of more than 650 chemicals and chemical categories that companies are required to report under EPA's Toxic Release Inventory Program. The data includes toxics released at the company's facility and those transported to disposal facilities off site. All manufacturing companies, as well as coal and oil fired power plants, that produce or use above the threshold limit for any chemical are required to participate. Thresholds range from thousands of pounds to 100 or ten pounds for PBTs, down to 0.1 grams for dioxin-like compounds.

The top five chemicals released to the environment during 2003 in Maine were:

Nitrate Compounds2003 releases = 2,732,413 lbs.2002 releases = 3,042,188 lbs.
Methanol2003 releases = 1,921,906 lbs.2002 releases = 1,953,315 lbs.
Manganese2003 releases = 822,739 lbs.2002 releases = 855,191lbs.
Ammonia2003 releases = 820,888lbs.2002 releases = 858,040
Hydrochloric2003 releases = 390,261 lbs.2002 releases = 393,174 lbs.

Maine’s five largest on- and off-site emitters of the toxic chemicals are listed below.

FacilityPounds releasedDifference from 2002
McCain Foods USA, Easton2,326,724- 230,796
SD Warren Co. Sappi Fine Paper, Skowhegan1,324,224- 93,926
Meadwestvaco Oxford Corp., Rumford1,241,320+ 580,427
International Paper Co., Jay940,855+ 226,303
Domtar Maine Corp., Baileyville901,537- 46,014

No attempt has been made to adjust the totals to reflect the relative seriousness of the chemicals emitted. It is important to note that these chemical emissions are reported to EPA under the TRI and do not reflect illegal discharges of pollutants to the environment, nor do these figures identify any potential risk of exposure to members of the communities. Also, yearly releases can vary due to factors such as power outages, production variability, etc., that do not reflect the facility’s pollution prevention program(s).

The reporting of data to the Toxics Release Inventory is required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, passed in 1986. The TRI provides the amount, location and type of release to the environment -- whether a pollutant is emitted into the air, discharged into the water, or released onto the land. It also includes information on waste shipped off-site for disposal or further treatment. The TRI has been credited with arming communities with valuable knowledge and encouraging facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through source reduction, or pollution prevention, measures.

Anybody is now able to access TRI data using an online tool called TRI Explorer. Using this, interested parties can search TRI data and generate four type of reports: state fact sheets, release reports, waste transfer reports and waste quantity reports. Information can be accessed for specific states, chemicals, years, media or industrial sectors. TRI Explorer and additional information on the TRI program are available at: http://www.epa.gov/tri.

Related Information:
Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA)
Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) EPA HQ